Prof. Dr. Helen Swift


University of Oxford Medieval French Literature


Curriculum vitae

Helen has been Associate Professor of Medieval French at St Hilda's College, Oxford, since 2005. It was also at Oxford, at Magdalen College, that she completed her undergraduate and postgraduate studies. Having focused for several years on narrative verse texts in the fifteenth-century querelle des femmes, especially the text and material context of Martin Le Franc’s Le Champion des dames (c. 1442) which formed a significant part of her doctoral work,she now explores more broadly, as well as collaboratively, questions of narrative voice in both verse and prose, from Guillaume de Machaut to Jean Bouchet. She co-directed the British Academy-funded research group ‘Voices in Medieval French Narrative’ (, and has contributed most recently to the Mellon-sponsored project ‘Machaut in the Book: Representations of Authorship in Late Medieval Manuscripts’ ( ). Her current monograph, partly inspired by a decade of teaching François Villon, examines question of narrative voice and identity in the context of first-person speakers from beyond the grave: Representing the Dead: Epitaph Fictions in Late Medieval France. At Oxford, she has convened the interdisciplinary MSt in Medieval Studies, and presently co-convenes the MSt in Women’s Studies, as well as serving on the steering committees of the ‘Oxford Medieval Studies’ and ‘Women and the Humanities’ TORCH (Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities) research programmes.

Wichtigste Publikationen:
  • Representing the Dead: Epitaph Fictions in Late Medieval France (Woodbridge: Boydell, forthcoming)
  • Gender, Writing and Performance: Men Defending Women in Late Medieval France (Oxford: OUP, 2008)
  • ed. with Sophie Marnette, Les voix narratives du récit médiéval, Cahiers de recherches médiévales et humanistiques 22 (2011)
  • ‘Picturing Narrative Voice: Communication and Displacement’, in Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age: Re-Examining Guillaume de Machaut's Material Legacy, ed. Ben Albritton and Deborah McGrady, Digital Philology (forthcoming)
  • ‘Limits of Representation in Late Fifteenth-Century Burgundy: What the Eye Doesn’t Hear and the Ear Doesn’t See’, in Text/Image Relations in Late Medieval French Culture (14th c. – 16th c.), ed. Rosalind Brown-Grant and Rebecca Dixon (Turnhout: Brepols, forthcoming 2015)
  •  ‘The Merits of Not Knowing: The Paradox of espoir certain in Late-Medieval French Narrative Poetry’, in Uncertain Knowledge in the Middle Ages, eds. Dallas Denery, Kantik Ghosh, Nicolette Zeeman (Turnhout: Brepols, 2014), 185–212
  • ‘Competing Codes of Authority in Mid-Fifteenth Century Burgundy: Martin Le Franc and the Book that Answers Back’, in Authority in European Book Culture, ed. Pollie Bromilow (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2013), pp. 43–66
  • ‘The Poetic “I”’, in A Companion to Guillaume de Machaut: An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Master, ed. Deborah McGrady and Jennifer Bain (Leiden: Brill, 2012), 15–32
  • ‘Splitting Heirs: Wrestling with the Rose in the querelle des femmes’, in Essays in Later Medieval French Literature: The Legacy of Janes H. M. Taylor, ed. Rebecca Dixon (Manchester: MUP, 2010), 3–19
  • ‘Tamainte consolation / me fist lymagination: A Poetics of Mourning and Imagination in Late Medieval dits’, in The Erotics of Consolation: Desire and Distance in the Late Middle Ages, ed. Catherine E. Léglu and Stephen J. Milner (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 141–164.